Opening Day is here! No, MLB is not having another Opening Day (they’ve already had two). Today is the kick off to the 2016 MiLB season, and for Dynasty league owners, it can be just as exciting as MLB Opening Day(s). So please take a minute to stop rosterbating over your brilliant Trevor Story pick up – who I touted way back in February as a top 30 prospect (you’re welcome), but also told you to not get too excited for this year (oops … although my concerns still stand, clearly it is ok to be excited) – and start getting ready to find the next under hyped, underrated stud. Here are the 2016 fantasy baseball dynasty league prospect sleepers that you should keep your eye on, if you haven’t scooped them already:
1) Bobby Bradley CLE, 1B – Bradley fell to the 3rd round of the 2014 draft, but that was solely due to his big signing bonus demands, and not his talent level. All he has done is rake once reaching pro ball, jacking 8 homers in 39 rookie ball games in 2014, and 27 homers in Single-A last season. The 19-year-old Bradley will start this season with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, and it won’t take long before the hype starts to catch up with the talent. I ranked Bradley 18th in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
3) Josh Hader MIL, LHP – A funky delivery and bullpen concerns have kept the hype for Hader in check, but considering the position the Brewers are in right now, they have every incentive to continue to develop him as a starter. The lanky 6’3’’ Hader is a strikeout machine (10.3 K/9 in Double-A last season), who relies heavily on his big fastball. If he can show improvement with his slider and/or changeup this year, more people will turn into believers. I ranked Hader 21st in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
4) Tom Murphy COL, C – Murphy hit 20 homers in 105 games last season splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, and then he hit 3 dingers in just 39 MLB PA. His defense has also improved to the point that nobody doubts he can stick at catcher. Nick Hundley’s contract runs out after this season, so the door is wide open for Murphy to win the starting job next year. His high strikeout numbers are the reason he is not more highly touted, but a poor average in not a killer at the catcher position, especially with the power he should provide at Coors. I ranked Murphy 32nd in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
8) Jacob Faria TB, RHP – Put up a pitching line of 2.51/1.09/96 in 75.1 IP in Double-A last season. Doesn’t have the big fastball, but his delivery creates a lot of deception. Also gets a bump due to Tampa Bay’s success with developing pitchers like him. If he can keep up those strikeout numbers this season, people won’t be sleeping on him anymore. I ranked Faria 68th in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
9) Jack Flaherty STL, RHP – We can “own” prospects in fantasy, but we still need to rely on actual baseball teams to develop them, and there isn’t a better team at player development than the St. Louis Cardinals. Flaherty struck out 97 batters in 95 IP in his first full season of pro ball at Single-A. His fastball sat in the low 90’s last year, but if it ticks up a bit after adding strength this offseason, he could rocket up prospect lists. I ranked Flaherty 69th in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
10) Justus Sheffield CLE, LHP – Cleveland has been on fire of late developing starting pitchers. Time to jump on the bandwagon. Sheffield struck out 138 batters in 127.2 IP in Single-A last season, and actually got better as the season went along, dominating in August and September. He is undersized for a starter at 5’10’’, which is probably why he has flown under the radar, but if he keeps putting up big strikeout numbers, he will force people to take notice. I ranked Sheffield 70th in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post.
12) Austin Byler ARI, 1B – Covered Byler in my Finding the Next A.J. Reed article, and ranked him 99th in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post. (He is suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for an amphetamine stimulant.)
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)